Kirk tried to explain that his present regrets were ample for all time, but, bowing formally, the visitors withdrew, leaving him to revile anew the name of Allan Allan.
When the black boy returned, foot-sore but cheerful, his appearance was the signal for an outburst that left him disconsolate and bewildered. He apologized over and over for his little error, and tried to reinstate himself by announcing, with a confidence he was far from feeling, that this time he had identified the elusive Chiquita beyond the peradventure of a doubt. This welcome intelligence did much to make Kirk forget his wrath.
“What’s her name?” he inquired, eagerly.
“Are you sure?”
“H’entirely. But it will not h’avail to be courting of those ladies, Master h’Auntony.”
“Is there more than one?”
“Two of they—sisters—very rich. They h’occupy the ’ouse h’adjoining Senor Torres.”
Allan spoke in a hushed voice, and shook his head as if to show the hopelessness of aspiring to such aristocracy. Surely Kirk knew of the Ferminas? Arcadio Fermina was the owner of the pearl-fishery concession and a person of the highest social distinction. He was white, all white, there was no doubt on that score. Undoubtedly Chiquita would prove to be his daughter and a joint heiress to his fabulous fortune. But she was not the sort to be courted from the street, even Allan knew that much; for, after all, such a procedure was followed only by the middle classes, and in this instance would result in nothing less than disaster.
It sounded reasonable, and Kirk allowed himself to be half convinced. It was no later than the following day, however, that Runnels pointed out two young ladies who were driving past and informed him that they were the Misses Fermina.
“Their old man has made a fortune out of the Pearl Islands,” he remarked. “They say those girls have the finest collection of pearls in Central America.”
Kirk gazed after them eagerly, but it took no more than a glance to show him that they were not even distantly related to the object of his search. Once more he set Allan upon the trail with instructions to find out who lived in the large house upon the hill—the one with the driveway of royal palms—and not to return without the information. But by now the Jamaican was beginning to weary of this running back and forth and to consider the quest a vain imagining. So, being wishful to dream another lottery number, he brought back with him a fanciful tale designed to quiet his employer and to assure himself ample leisure in the future.
“Master h’Auntony, your female is gone,” he informed him, sadly.
“Somewhere—on a ship.”
“Are you sure?”
“There is no doubt, sar. Her name is Garavel, and she h’occupies the big ’ouse on the ’ill. I discovered those h’impartant facts from the Bajan ’ooman.”